Being a gamer that plays a lot of multiplayer, I have had a fair share of gaming headsets, Some great, some passable, but typically from one of the two big competitors. Towards the end of the last gen, and at the start of this one, we started to see other audio companies weather the storm of gamer opinion with their own hardware designs for the burgeoning gamer market and once again. One of the first into the fray was Polk Audio, who had become somewhat of an associated name with their home speaker systems.
The Striker ZX are the metaphorical successor to Polk’s opening release, the 4-Shot Headset that we reviewed last year. It includes all of the bells and whistles of its earlier incarnation, but with a significantly lower retail price, but thankfully, have addressed a lot of the concerns that Dave highlighted with the 4-Shot.
Firstly, this latest model appears to have a more robust build quality, and feels extremely sturdy in hand with the thin headband of the 4-Shot being replaced with a stark, flat headband that fits snugly in place.
Secondly, the criticism aimed at the unique concealed microphone has been taken on board, and the new design reflects this feedback. Although still concealed within the left ear cup, Polk have decided to move away from the single peice microphone for a semi concealed omni directional design. protruding a mere 1cm from the cup when retracted, the mic can be extended up to 7cm, but with the solid ring design metal covering and hardened clear plastic coating no sturdyness has been sacrificed for this additional adjustability. This has also clearly helped with the “whisper volume” issue that plagued the 4shot, and everyone I used the headset with could hear me loud and clear.
Style-wise, polk have remained true to form, with a choice of Black/Grey, Blue/Grey or Orange/white colour schemes, they are definitely a striking addition to their catalogue.
One of my main concerns was duration of use. With their ‘Pro-fit’ padding, and large padded ear cups, the set weighs just over 8grams and is extremely lightweight, so even after a marathon 6 hour session, there was no discomfort or irritation from use.
Although pitched as an Xbox One headset, and packaged with their proprietary xbox headset adapter, I found that the Strikers were more than up to the task on a multitude of platforms given its standard 3.5mm adapter.
With the Xbox One adapter, Polk have included their proprietary Chat Loop technology which allows you to hear back your own voice when chatting, and helps prevent the Ear Cup shout syndrome we are all guilty of committing at one time or another. Volume controls for game and voice on the adapter itself also made finding a good median relatively easy.
Successful testing with PC, mobile, PS4 and PS Vita confirmed that no matter your personal gaming preference, the Striker’s can play an important role in your gaming arsenal as long as the jack fits. As such, with the retractable mic, I have had no issue wearing these as my de facto headset for my daily commute.
This, coupled with the low-mid range price of £49 at most retail outlets, put the Strikers in a prime position to make an impact with the casual gamer and mobile gamer crowd.
Sadly my biggest, and only, gripe is how narrow a range of sound you get from this stereo headset. Without any modification options or EQ settings, the Bass felt muffled and hollow, while the upper ranges of the Treble seemed muted and lacking in depth. Being used to the configurable settings mid to high range headsets provide has, obviously, made me expect that little bit more from my audio hardware.
That said, with the Strikers pitched as an entry level, every-man headset, I cant haul them over the coals too much for this oversight, as the cost/value ratio on this product is still extremely high.
In my opinion, this headset is a superb, flexible addition to anyone’s gaming set up, and if you are in the market for a decent catch all headset, you could do a lot worse than to pick these up.
|The Good||The Bad|
| Solid Construction
Cross platform viable
Good Price point
|Weak Audio Extremes
No EQ Settings
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: Xbox One (All) Release Date: 10/10/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a pair of Striker ZX by the Supplier for review purposes. The hardware was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a Xbox One, PS4, PC, Vita and mobile platforms. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.